#RIPNelsonMandela: Funeral Plans Begin For Late African Legend

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Following the death of Nelson Madiba Mandela, the whole world has been thrown into a frenzy, celebrating the life of one of the greatest men that ever lived.

A series of high-profile activities have been scheduled to hold over the next 10 days, with the last being the iconic South African’s burial.

Heads of state and dignitaries from around the world are expected to fly in – among them potentially Barack Obama, the Pope, the Queen, David Cameron, the Dalai Lama and former US president Bill Clinton.

Adding their own sparkle with be a phalanx of celebrities who each took pride in calling Mr Mandela a friend: U2 frontman Bono, singer Annie Lennox, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, talk show host Oprah Winfrey and supermodel Naomi Campbell.

Following President Jacob Zuma’s announcement of the news of Mr Mandela’s passing, his body is thought to have been taken to Pretoria’s main military hospital.

During the period of national mourning announced by Mr Zuma, condolence books will be opened at all South Africa’s foreign embassies as well as at his former home in Soweto, which is now a popular museum. A special sitting of parliament may also be held in Cape Town, South Africa’s legislative capital.

After some days of liaison with foreign governments and last-minute arrangements, a Ceremony of Remembrance will be held, most likely in the Soweto football stadium that previously hosted the soccer World Cup, known by locals as the Calabash after its resemblance to a traditional beer-drinking pot.

Africa’s largest stadium, it has a capacity of 95,000. In July 2010, it played host to Mr Mandela’s last public appearance when he was driven onto the football pitch in a golf cart for the soccer tournament’s closing ceremony, accompanied by his wife Graca and resplendent in a bear-skin hat.

On this occasion, the Calabash is expected to be filled to the rafters by people eager to play their part in celebrating Mr Mandela’s life and, in habitual African fashion, singing and dancing will play a key role in the event. Others will watch the proceedings from big screens expected to be put up in Soweto, Pretoria and Cape Town.

Among the names mentioned to compere the event is that of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, the diminutive and passionate cleric who fought apartheid alongside Mr Mandela.

Either before or after the ceremony, Mr Mandela’s body will spend some time lying in state, either in Pretoria’s City Hall or the Union Buildings, the seat of government where Mr Mandela was sworn in as South Africa’s first black, democratic president in 1994.

The burial of former president Mandela will be in accordance with the traditions of his Xhosa tribal roots and a private, family event although a handful of the celebrities and dignitaries closest to him are thought likely to be invited.

Xhosa tradition usually includes the slaughter of a cow or sheep, periods of prayer, singing and silence, and the possessions of the loved one placed inside their grave to help them in the afterlife. As a lover of good food, whose personal cook is a celebrity in her own right in South Africa, Mr Mandela is likely to have stipulated that a final feast be held in his honour.

Mr Mandela is understood to have chosen his own burial spot, on a hillside within his family’s compound, overlooking the green fields where he tended cattle and played as a boy.

No one knows for sure what will come after the official ceremonies to bid farewell to Nelson Mandela are over.

Wana

Wana

Quo non Ascendam. Writer.
E-mail: wana@360nobs.com

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